Police have warned residents not to get involved in the “vigilante-type” activities of a local Facebook group – but the Take Tamworth Back movement insists it’s “not vigilantes, but a group of concerned citizens”.
The Tamworth-based Facebook page has been online for several months, acting as a live reporting site for criminal activity, with the motto “God will judge our enemies, we’ll arrange the meeting”.
More recently, the site, which has amassed more than 3000 followers, has been calling for volunteers to go on nightly “patrols”, as well as posting footage of alleged assailants in a bid to have them identified.
Oxley police Acting Superintendent Jeff Budd said police “have been aware of the existence of the page for some months”.
“In the last few weeks there has been a change in tone on that page, which has been very disturbing,” he said.
“We offer caution to people who are trying to get involved or want to be known on that page.”
In response to the call for community-led “patrols”, Superintendent Budd called it “nonsense”.
“It’s faceless at this time, there is no one behind the page except a keyboard,” he said.
“My advice would be to be very, very careful about anyone getting involved in this activity – if they do anything outside the law then they will face the consequences.
“If any sane thinking person thinks it’s the right thing to do to call people to arms and go and bash kids then I don’t know anything – it’s outrageous.”
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the group said they are only “a presence to deter criminals”.
“Doing night patrols has worked in other communities, so why not here? We are not telling people to go out and bash kids,” the spokesperson said in a statement.
“These crimes have gone on for far too long with soft sentences and pathetic laws having made this town what it is today – we all have to band together.”
Superintendent Budd didn’t deny Tamworth is currently in the midst of a crime spike. He said social media could work well to warn the community, but urged residents to contact police first.
“There is an expectation that people should stay away from confrontation with other people,” he said.
“If people have information about what is happening in our town then they should ring the police. We have the legislation and the powers to support us.”